WaterFire Goes to Singapore

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


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Just around the globe... far-flung Singapore

It's about as global as an event could get.

WaterFire will break new ground this coming weekend when fires will be lit in Singapore in complete coordination with fires in Providence, and the "torch" will be passed virtually, via Skype, from one city to the other.

WaterFire founder and executive director Barnaby Evans, who left for Singapore on Sunday morning, will light the Singapore event, while his trusted team lights the Providence braziers, in a full WaterFire commencing Saturday at 7pm.

Singapore's WaterFire is designed by Evans and is being presented by Evans’ partner Temasek Polytechnic in Bedok Reservoir Park as part of the polytechnic’s Global Community Day, a festival of international arts and culture. All funding for the event in Singapore comes from Singapore sources and it is being presented by 55 volunteers from Singapore joined by 9 Providence volunteers. The braziers were fabricated and tested
there with the assistance of staff from the School of Engineering and from the Centre for TransCultural Studies at Temasek Poly.

Why Singapore?

Evans explains that part of choosing the far-flung Asian metropolis was just that--its far-flungness. "We wanted something literally around the globe from Providence," he said, "but the exact opposite would have been near to Antarctica. So we came north."

Because the international dateline plays a role, the timing of this bipolar art event plays back and forth. The plan goes this way: WaterFire will start at sunset on Saturday, September 24th, just at the dateline in Singapore. One brazier will be lit all night till dawn and then the flame will be sent via Skype to Providence to light WaterFire in Providence at sunset here on the 24th. As the night goes on here in Providence, one brazier in Waterplace Basin will be kept burning all night until dawn, when the flame will be sent by Skype back to Singapore for the first sunset of the next day, September 25th.

Providence at the center of the world

“It is an extraordinary opportunity to position Providence as truly at the center of the world," Evans said. “While all the funding and staff for this comes from Singapore, the idea of WaterFire will have travelled entirely around the world. It is a great way to show how powerful art can be in knitting the world together. It is also a great way to show all the world what a creative capital Providence truly is.”

Evans described the Singapore site as amazing. "It will have a pedestrian walkway over 1400 feet long where you can walk among the fires," he said "I am particularly delighted that I am including music by such Providence artists such as the Low Anthem, Jenifer Smith, and Ellen Santaniello." Evans also noted that WaterFire in Singapore will smell different: "One big difference is the fire wood," he said. "Instead of reclaimed pine, as we use in Providence, we will be using reclaimed Lychee wood, storm-fallen Cinnamon trees, and salvaged timber."

A common thread: great food

One thing in common, added Evans, is a shared love of food. "We were delighted to host a contingent of ten travelers from Singapore to Providence last fall," he said, "and they were delighted with our restaurants. I am looking forward to discovering their cusine!”

The WaterFire Singapore connection goes back several years. When architect Moshe Safdie got the design contract for the $8 billion [S] Marina Bay Sands, the 2,561-room luxury casino on the edge of Marina Bay, he
reached out to meet with Evans to discuss the creation of an art interface at the water’s edge of the casino. Safdie has an office in Cambridge, MA, and has long been a big fan of WaterFire. Ultimately this discussion
did not go further. Now years later Evans has been meeting with the state design agency to explore new ideas for original urban interventions in this rapidly growing city.

While Singapore lights its fires on either side of Saturday night in Providence, our local WaterFire in Providence will be another spectacular event, including the TD Bank Ballroom with the Salsa stage and much, much more. To follow Evans in Singapore, go to www.waterfireinternational.com.


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